We’re From the Government, and We’re Here to Help.

Heard about the suds smuggling going on up in Washington State? The eco-Nazis got together and got a law passed that banned all phosphates in detergents. But like most of what passes for “science” from the green crowd, somebody failed to do their homework. Turns out while phosphates may be bad whilst going down the drain from a dishwasher, they serve a useful purpose – they make the soap clean the dishes better, especially where locals suffer with hard water. No phosphates – no clean dishes, which means that the natives have to wash their dishes several times over to get ’em clean. Now I ask you – what’s more harmful to the environment…phosphates and a normal number of gallons of water used per dishwasher load, or no phosphates but three to five times the gallons of water used. You don’t have to be Kevin Costner to figure out that the world ain’t made of potable water. Take it from me here atop a caprock in the Texas Panhandle, water is a precious commodity. Using less water is better than trying to keep what goes down the drain from being a little impure. (Hint: That’s what we have water treatment plants for.)

This, of course, isn’t the first time that the Federal and/or State Governments have stepped in to “help” us poor, dumb consumers. Take the low-volume flush toilets. Please. When the law was first enacted, you saw people hoarding old toilets, or driving down to Mexico to bring ones that actually worked back across the border. Oh, the new ones flushed – but it might take four or five flushes to get everything down the drain. Now THAT’S progress!

The America in which we live is rife with stories such as this. The Americans With Disabilities Act alone is the root cause of major pieces of insanity. Now I’m all for giving people in wheelchairs, on crutches, and those that are infirm a break. Unfortunately, Government rules ALWAYS go too far, because it’s simply impossible to codify common sense.

Next up: light bulbs. One of the Bush Administration’s more boneheadded moves was to pass a ban on incandescent bulbs. (Note that they left hallogen bulbs alone, which waste waaaaay more electricity and generate siginificantly more heat than any incandescent bulb ever thought to do.) The officially-approved replacement technology? Florescent tubes – which are filled with toxic mecury vapors. Break one, and your home instantly becomes a HazMat site. Call the authorities, and you can re-enact that fun scene in Monsters Inc., where the guys in the bunny suits come in like jack-booted thugs, strip you naked, and spray you six ways o’ Sunday with disinfectant. Ah, good times. Of course, the REAL solution to incandescents is LED lighting. Trouble is, they are in short supply, and hideously expensive. (Of course, if you were gonna make a bulb that would last for 20 or 30 years, you’d need to charge a lot, as you realize you’re not gonna have  a huge repeat business.)

I get really nervous anytime the Goverment wants to “help” me. I believe that we hired those bozos – and pay their salaries – to do just a couple of things…provide for the common defense, maintain courts to settle disputes, and build and maintain our infrastructure (roads, etc.). As to the rest – that should be up to private enterprise. Period. You see, the Government isn’t really good for much else, and if there was an effective way to turn over more of what should be government projects to the private sector, I’d be willing to give it a shot. I don’t want OSHA looking over my shoulder to helpfully tell me not to stand on the top step of my ladder, nor do I want the FTC or FDA tell me that I can’t bloody well leave a hot pad on for more than 20 minutes without the stupid thing “helpfully” turning itself off. I think I have a grip on when I want it on and off, and I’d rather make that decision myself, even if that means I run a risk of electrocution or fire.

I think it would be pretty interesting to run much of what we have on the books by the Supremes, just to see if it passes constitutional muster. My best guess is that we have constructed a web of laws that depend on a willing suspension of disbelief in constitutional law, and a willingess to accept the most tortuous logic as raison d’être for much of our legal system.

As for me, I look on with interest to see the many cities where Tea Parties are springing up like stubborn kudzu. I like it. I hope our government wakes up in time, to see that the last thing in the world we want or need – is their help.

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